A's beat Angels for eighth straight win

Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Certainly Oakland A's manager Bob Melvin was pleased with his team's seven-game winning streak heading into Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Angels. But win No. 8 really made him happy.
A.J. Griffin pitched eight strong innings, the offense banged out 16 hits and the A's extended their winning streak to eight games with an 8-1 victory over the Angels.
"We really played a full game today, where the pitching was good, the defense was good, the baserunning was good, clutch hitting -- all of the above," Melvin said. "This was probably our best game all the way around."
The A's not only completed a three-game sweep of the Angels, but they also finished their first road trip of the season with a 6-0 record. It marked only the third time in club history the A's have gone undefeated on a trip of at least six games -- the last time was in 2002, when they went 10-0 on a trip during their 20-game winning streak.
Every player in the starting lineup had at least one of Oakland's 16 hits; Seth Smith led the way with four. The A's have had at least 10 hits in all eight games during the winning streak, a feat accomplished only once before in club history (2002).
At 8-2, Oakland has the best record in the American League. It's the first time the A's have won eight of their first 10 since 1992.
"You've got to focus on each and every game and play your best baseball," Melvin said. "Try to prepare to play well every game, and we did. Our offense continues to flourish, and it takes some pressure off the rest of your game."
Griffin (2-0) shut down the Angels' new-look offense -- Mike Trout was moved from leadoff to the No. 2 spot -- allowing just one run and five hits. The Angels did not have a hit after the fourth inning.
The A's got home runs from Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes and a clutch two-run double by Chris Young that extended Oakland's lead to 5-1 in a pivotal four-run sixth.
On the flip side, things couldn't get much worse for the Angels. At 2-7, they're off to their worst nine-game start since the franchise's first season, 1961, when those Angels went 1-8 while playing their home games in South Los Angeles' Wrigley Field.
"You have to focus on the process," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said when asked how his team can snap out of its funk. "We're a good club and we are going to turn this around. We all believe this. Right now, you can say, 'Go out and win.' But if you don't put the steps in place to win, it's not going to add up.
"We're a little frustrated trying to get our pitching settled, especially the bullpen, and that's something that definitely needs to be in place. As far as what we do, these guys are getting after it, they're ready to go, we just haven't had that spark to get us going yet."
Jason Vargas (0-1) gave up five runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings and took the loss, but he pitched better than the numbers show. Vargas gave up one run through five innings before giving up a two-run homer to Donaldson in the sixth. And after the A's put two more runners on base in the inning, Scioscia went to Kevin Jepsen out of the bullpen.
Jepsen got ahead in the count 0-2 on Chris Young before Young worked the count to 3-2. Young then lined a two-run double into the left-field corner for a 5-1 lead, both runs charged to Vargas.
"I'd like to have that sixth inning back, but that's baseball," Vargas said. "We'll just keep playing, keep grinding and it's going to be fine. I don't think anybody likes to lose, everybody gets frustrated when it happens. But I think everybody believes in the team we've got here."
Trout, in his new spot in the lineup, went 0-for-4, and leadoff hitter Alberto Callaspo went 0-for-3 before leaving the game with a sore calf muscle. Josh Hamilton had two hits to raise his average to .200 (7-for-35) for the first time all season.
NOTES: Going into Thursday's game, Trout was hitting .278 with no homers, one RBI and 10 strikeouts. ... Callaspo led off Thursday, but that job should fall to Erick Aybar once Aybar returns from a bruised heel. Aybar, who hurt himself running out an infield hit Tuesday, could return this weekend. ... Angels right-hander Ryan Madson, recovering from Tommy John surgery last April, made 30 pitches during a bullpen session Thursday and felt good afterward. Madson, who was signed to be the club's closer, said he'd be happy if he could return to the active roster before the end of April. ... A's right fielder Josh Reddick was not in the starting lineup for the third game in a row. Reddick, who sprained his right wrist running into the fence trying to catch a ball in Houston on Sunday, launched several baseballs into the right-field seats during batting practice. Melvin, though, said he preferred to err on the side of caution. Reddick was available for pinch-hitting duties and is expected back in the lineup Friday in Oakland against the Tigers.